A dog to live for – (published)

Written by Lenette Acree Sprouse
photos by by Erik Olsen

Von Picone GSD

Just when the world seemed perfect and their dreams had come true, Dr Joe Picone and his wife Kathy were given some devastating news. Joe had tongue cancer and wasn’t expected to live.

They had brought their daughter to the area only a few years earlier for summer camp and fell in love with Polk County and Tryon. The couple went back to their home in Florida, sold his long time Chiropractic office and in 2004 moved to their hilltop home with a view in Tryon.

Still wishing to help people with both Nutrition and Chiropractic services, they opened an office in Tryon. Things were striding along in 2005, when the news came. The C word
never sits well with anyone, and terminal always strikes a blow.

It was just about this time when Joe received a call about a dog that needed a good home. A domestic disputing couple now needed to place their German shepherd. Joe immediately wanted to help.

Already owning a chocolate lab, and a golden retriever the couple pondered such an addition briefly and surrendered to the idea of three.

Kiki was not just an ordinary German shepherd, but a Black and Silver and very well Schutzhund level III trained. Having grown up with a black and red shepherd Joe took to the dog straight away and the two were in separable.

“It was a very hard battle” Joe says about his Cancer “ And I wasn’t suppose to win. I really believe Kiki’s underlying love and devotion carried me through to my recovery.” He continues.

In 2010 it was Kiki’s turn. Cancer took her from the Picone family then and left emptiness nothing seemed to fill. Joes never give up nature yearned for Kiki’s impossible return and conceived an idea.

Tracing the linage of Kiki back to Germany and Mr. Emile Bausch of Von Arline Kennels seemed to help his depression. Joe learned all he could about Kiki’s bloodline and the Von Arline Kennels. “ I wanted another Shepherd, but not just anyone, it had to come from Kiki’s blood line” Picone says “ My hope was that I could get a piece of him back. Mr. Bausch didn’t breed but two litters a year and the Picone family waited.

Another important call, this one sharing the news that a puppy was ready. Joe and Kathy were soon on their way to the airport to pick up Xambo Von Arline, the great nephew of Kiki.

Joe remembers, “It was an instant fix to a broken heart!” And after a few months with Xambo his love for West German show line Shepherds grew out of control. A kennel was born then, in that very moment.

Kathy says “we love the silver shepherds and wanted to share them with others”.

Joe flew to Germany for training and selection of a few more dogs.

The Picone dogs are breed for “mind not looks” Joe says. “And Schutzhund trained daily” Schutzhund was developed in Germany in the early 1900’s as a breed test for German shepherd dogs. The test determined if the dog displayed appropriate traits and characteristics of a proper working German dog. Today its purpose is to identify dogs that have or don’t have traits for demanding jobs.

Things like strong desire to work, courage, intelligence, bond to handler, sense of smell and protective instinct are tested before a dog can carry a Schutzhund title.

“The dog bonds best to the one who trains it and becomes extremely devoted” Joe explains as he demonstrates some of the training.

Holding a clicker in one hand and a ball type device in the other Joe walks along, as the dog stays close by his side and always looks at his master. A click click is immediate and marks the behavior when the dog performs a command asked task correctly. The ball is given to the dog after the entire session is over.

“The training ball is like Crack to humans” Kathy explains.

During the Schutzhund level testing, if a dog shows any signs of being afraid of his master he is marked down in points. The bond between master and dog must be devotion. It takes high marks and scores for a dog to gain a Schutzhund level title.

The Von Picone Kennel dogs respond swiftly to commands when worked with regularly. “Fuss” means follow me and platz is lay down” Joe says “and phooey serves as no.” Joe explains as he demonstrates. Joe is active in the Schutzhund club in Swansea, South Carolina where all the testing is done for dogs in this area. Each of the Black and silver puppies are born black and come into their color during their first few years. Kathy says, “They are the best friend you will ever have.

They never have a bad day and all they want is to see you and please you.” Each of the puppies at the Picone Kennel comes with basic training and nutritional suggestions.

Joe declares “They are the ideal family pet for you, and your family.” He continues” they are the calmest dogs on the planet and the smartest. I started this journey for the love of one dog and now know all German Shepherds posses the same commitment to family as Kiki did with me. It’s just their nature. That’s what makes them the ultimate family dog. They want to watch over their family.” Joe says with affection.

Information on the Von Picone Kennels can be found at vonpiconekennels.com or by calling 828-817-1773. You can also email Kathy or Joe Picone at drjpicone@gmail.com.

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